Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Climate adaptation policies are needed more than ever

Posted by hkarner - 1. Juni 2020

Date: 30‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

People are already suffering from catastrophic losses as a result of extreme weather events like cyclone Amphan

On may 16th a telltale anticlockwise spiral of clouds in satellite images taken over the Bay of Bengal warned of impending disaster. Four days later Supercyclone Amphan made landfall, the most powerful storm to do so in the region in 20 years. Winds gusting at up to 185km/hr pounded the coast of the Indian state of West Bengal, which took the brunt of the impact. Huge waves swept over the Indian and Bangladeshi coast. Trees were lifted out of the ground, city streets turned to rivers, tens of thousands lost their homes. Yet the number of deaths was relatively low. As of May 27th there had been around 100 overall, though the number could rise as emergency services reach the more remote areas. In Bangladesh there were just over 20.

For several decades now Bangladesh’s cyclone death tolls have been falling. The storms have not become less brutal; and rising sea levels, combined with the country’s flat‑as‑a‑pancake coastline and growing population, have put ever more people at risk. But Bangladesh has developed a layered adaptation plan to cope with these disasters. It now has an early‑warning system offering precious extra minutes for people to evacuate to concrete cyclone shelters, and sea walls to protect stretches of coastline. In 2019, Cyclone Fani—not a storm on Amphan’s scale, but one which at its peak would have been a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic—killed dozens. In the late 20th century and early 21st, death tolls for powerful storms were in the thousands to hundreds of thousands. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Google’s removal of anti‑Beijing comments raises political eyebrows

Posted by hkarner - 30. Mai 2020

Date: 28‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

The case of the vanishing comments

On may 26th Palmer Luckey, an American best known for making virtual‑reality headsets, alerted the world to an odd phenomenon. YouTube was deleting all comments which mentioned Wumao, slang for propagandists paid by the Chinese Communist Party (ccp) to flood online forums with pro‑ccp views. “Who at Google [YouTube’s parent] decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?” Mr Luckey asked on Twitter.

Mr Luckey was not the first to notice this, but his tech heft drew an immediate response from the right of the political spectrum, with which he has had connections. Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, called it “very disturbing” and asked why YouTube was “censoring Americans on behalf of the ccp”. Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, fired off a letter to Sundar Pinchai, Google’s boss. One would expect, he wrote, that the “spirit” of the First Amendment would be extended into the American firm’s online platforms. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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New solar cells extract more energy from sunshine

Posted by hkarner - 23. Mai 2020

Date: 23‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

Much greater efficiency is coming

Solar energy has had a good crisis. In many parts of the world skies clear of pollution have helped photovoltaic power stations, which convert light into electricity, become more productive and reliable. Declining demand, meanwhile, has seen coal‑ and gas‑fired stations taken offline. In Britain, on April 20th, solar generation peaked at 9.7 gigawatts. At the moment this happened that represented almost 30% of the country’s electricity supply—ten times the usual proportion. In Germany the proportion of solar in the mix reached 23% for an entire week in April, compared with an average of about 8% during 2019.

Though temporary, such figures are impressive. Solar power, they suggest, has come of age. In some ways, however, despite solar’s new and shiny image, this is the victory of an old technology.

The first practical solar cell was made in the 1950s at Bell Labs in New Jersey. It had an efficiency of 6% and was horrendously expensive. It did, though, prove to have a killer application in powering the satellites of the superpowers in the forthcoming space race. That kept interest alive. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to fight an economic crisis in a monetary union

Posted by hkarner - 18. Mai 2020

Date: 17‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

When philip lane joined the European Central Bank (ecb) nearly a year ago, he hardly expected to be fighting off the economic effects of a pandemic. The bank’s preoccupations back then seem quaint now. The euro area’s economy was sputtering and the ecb was forecasting a growth rate of 1.4% for 2020. Now Mr Lane, the bank’s chief economist, speculates that gdp might fall by 5‑12% this year.

Like other central banks, the ecb has cooked up an alphabet soup of schemes—including the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (pepp), which will buy bonds worth €750bn ($815bn). Unlike other rich‑world banks, though, the ecb must fend off suspicions that it cannot act freely. On May 5th Germany’s constitutional court ruled that the Bundesbank would have to stop participating in the ecb’s five‑year‑old quantitative‑easing scheme unless it is shown to be “proportionate”. Some fear the pepp could face a legal challenge next.

Christine Lagarde, the bank’s president, has vowed that it is “undeterred” by the ruling. It could probably pass the court’s test, but may not wish to accede to a national court. The row makes its credibility with investors paramount. Ms Lagarde is neither an economist nor an experienced central banker, so it falls to Mr Lane to provide the technical underpinning for that credibility. He puts forward policies and develops the ecb’s intellectual framework. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why the pandemic could eventually lower inequality

Posted by hkarner - 18. Mai 2020

Date: 17‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist: Free exchange

History suggests it could precipitate shifts towards a more equal income distribution

For america’s poor, the covid‑19 pandemic has delivered a swift and brutal reversal of fortune. At the start of the year unemployment was plumbing new lows. Years of wage growth for low‑income workers had healed some of the scars left by the global financial crisis. Already by 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available, the economic expansion had produced a smaller rise in American income inequality, after taxes and transfers, than any expansion since the early 1980s. Between 2016 and 2019 the weekly earnings of low‑ and middle‑income workers grew at an annual average pace of 3.8%. Since covid‑19 struck, however, a host of economic statistics—and legions of pundits—have pointed to a resurgence in inequality. Yet if history is a guide, the pandemic could eventually render the distribution of income more egalitarian.

There are many reasons why the well‑heeled might suffer less in the pandemic. Much of the plunge in asset prices that occurred in March has since been retraced. In places like New York City and Los Angeles, covid‑19 seems to have hit poorer neighbourhoods harder. Low‑wage earners are often less able to work from home or maintain social distancing. Interruptions to schooling widen the gaps in achievement between children from richer backgrounds and those from poorer families. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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France is leaving lockdown. Now the trouble begins

Posted by hkarner - 17. Mai 2020

Date: 14‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

The process is hampered by adversarial labour relations and distrust of government

On the estuary of the river Seine in Normandy, the Renault factory at Sandouville lies silent and empty. Usually, the 1,900 workers at this plant turn out 132,000 vehicles a year, mostly delivery vans. But on May 7th a court in Le Havre ordered Renault not to reopen fully as planned on May 11th, when France began its déconfinement, or emergence from lockdown. It upheld a complaint brought by the Confédération Générale du Travail, a union with historical links to the Communist Party, that the firm had not followed procedure for consulting employees about reopening. Pending an appeal, the factory remains shut.

After eight weeks of confinement, France was supposed to resume work this week. Forms for permission to pop to the shops have been binned. Public transport was running at 75% of normal in Paris, with masks compulsory. Hairdressers, clothes shops, bookstores and all other commerce—except restaurants and cafés—were allowed to reopen. Some primary‑school pupils returned to class. It was “essential” for the economy to get going again, said Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Is Sweden’s approach to covid‑19 wise or reckless?

Posted by hkarner - 16. Mai 2020

Date: 14‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

Its avoidance of a hard lockdown is unusual, but Swedes think it is working

As bleary‑eyed Europeans squint in the sun, freshly released from coronavirus lockdowns, worries about a second wave of infections are on everybody’s mind. Life cannot return completely to normal until a vaccine is available. What sort of semi‑normal life might work in the meantime is the big question. Sweden may hold the answer.

In March, when governments across Europe seemed to be competing to impose the toughest anti‑viral measures—from closing borders to forbidding people from venturing out even for a walk—Sweden resisted the temptation. It banned gatherings of more than 50 people. But nurseries and schools for children under 16 have remained open (with older students tele‑learning from home). Bars, restaurants and gyms also stayed open, though with social‑distancing rules. People were asked to work from home if they could. And the elderly, who are most at risk of dying if infected, were told to stay at home to protect themselves.

Sweden chose this path because it looked at the longer term, says Johan Giesecke, an epidemiologist advising the authorities. Full lockdowns are stop‑gap measures, he says, and European governments rushed to put them in place without plans for what would replace them. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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There is less trust between Washington and Beijing than at any point since 1979

Posted by hkarner - 11. Mai 2020

Date: 07‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

What does that mean in practice?

When conducting war games between China and America, David Ochmanek of rand Corporation, a think‑tank, worries most about an invasion of Taiwan, the security of which is implicitly guaranteed by America. In one scenario the red team unleashes a “joint firepower strike” on Taiwan’s defence forces and on American forces, bases and command‑and‑control nodes in the Pacific, including on Okinawa and Guam. Many of the blue team’s planes are destroyed on the ground, and its runways disabled. China severs communication links as part of an effort to gain information superiority, part of a full‑spectrum strategy called “system‑destruction warfare”. Then comes the amphibious assault on the island. American submarines knock out some portion of the invasion force with torpedoes, but surface‑level carriers and frigates are hammered by Chinese anti‑ship missiles if they venture near the fight. “We always assume that the United States intervenes forcefully and early,” Mr Ochmanek says. But now, in contrast to years past, “I would not have confidence that we would succeed.”

The probability of such a world‑changing military conflict between the two countries remains mercifully low. But it is becoming something to ponder beyond simulations, a reflection of how grim their relationship has become. Lesser conflicts may be reignited this year—over trade, technology, espionage and propaganda and disinformation—while the American death toll from covid‑19 climbs. The world’s two largest economies, so long intertwined through trade and investment, are heading towards a partial decoupling. There is less trust between the two governments than at any time since the normalisation of relations in 1979. And as an election approaches in November, the chances of misunderstanding, miscalculation and provocation are escalating on both sides. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Britain’s government says it is “following the science”. Which science?

Posted by hkarner - 10. Mai 2020

Date: 07‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

Scientists deal in uncertainty, politicians prefer not to.

Amid the pandemic, the two are not mixing well

Watching the great and good trip up is a popular British spectator sport, and the lockdown offers a variety of banana skins which may bring eminent people down. First to tumble was Catherine Calderwood, who resigned as Scotland’s chief medical officer after twice breaking restrictions to visit her second home. This week it was the turn of Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist whose bleak modelling spurred on Britain’s lockdown. He will no longer advise the government after flouting the rules by having his lover visit. The newspaper headlines were merciless.

“Prof Lockdown broke lockdown to get his trousers down,” read the Sun’s splash. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A dangerous gap: The market v the real economy

Posted by hkarner - 8. Mai 2020

Date: 07‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

Financial markets have got out of whack with the economy. Something has to give

Stockmarket history is packed with drama: the 1929 crash; Black Monday in 1987, when share prices lost 20% in a day; the dotcom mania in 1999. With such precedents, nothing should come as a surprise, but the past eight weeks have been remarkable, nonetheless. A gut‑wrenching sell‑off in shares has been followed by a delirious rally in America. Between February 19th and March 23rd, the s&p 500 index lost a third of its value. With barely a pause it has since rocketed, recovering more than half its loss. The catalyst was news that the Federal Reserve would buy corporate bonds, helping big firms finance their debts. Investors shifted from panic to optimism without missing a beat. 

This rosy view from Wall Street should make you uneasy. It contrasts with markets elsewhere. Shares in Britain and continental Europe, for example, have recovered more sluggishly. And it is a world away from life on Main Street. Even as the lockdown eases in America, the blow to jobs has been savage, with unemployment rising from 4% to about 16%, the highest rate since records began in 1948. While big firms’ shares soar and they get help from the Fed, small businesses are struggling to get cash from Uncle Sam. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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